Intern Spotlight: Learning How Lab Work Drives the Bottom Line
“I get to study the world around me,” Joe Molle, one of our Lab Tech Interns, explained when asked how he chose his major. Two majors and three minors actually: Chemical engineering, paper science engineering, and minors in chemistry, math, and bio-fuels. He has a knack for discovery and the wit to talk math with our main researcher. This made him a natural fit in our Milwaukee lab this past Spring and Summer.
Joe worked primarily in the Colorants and Quality Control Labs. Here he gained experience in quality control processes under the guidance
of our Colorants Lab Manager. This included testing samples from batches, vendors, and customers. He also updated the lab’s inventory and submitted proposals to approve new lab equipment.
He grew quickly in the position and eventually could suggest production adds to improve the product batches. His analytical skills and experience with chemical engineering allowed him to move up in the lab and aid in research and development. Here, he had the opportunity to work directly with salesmen to create a coating product to improve the look and feel of fabrics. “I enjoy the research and development projects the most,” he reflects. “I’m able to test, conclude, and present solutions that are actually sold in the marketplace. It’s a full-circle experience I don’t get in class.”
Joe also was the introductory Cooperative position offered by FSW. This position structure allowed Joe to spend a full semester working for us out of Milwaukee, while earning credits towards his degree at University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point.
“In class, you work for a grade. In a career, you work for a profit. My goal for this semester was to experience this in full, so I’m more prepared for the path I choose after college.” Joe said.
Joe also enjoyed working with such a wide variety of dyes and chemicals. “In class, we work with pure chemicals and are usually trying to make them even purer. Here, we’re working to create new mixes and combinations to get results,” he said. Scientific method in action!
We asked Joe what it was like to work in a professional lab environment for the first time. He said, “You have a bigger work load and more responsibility. It’s fast-paced and you’re on your feet most of the day…But it’s much more rewarding.” Even more rewarding, he reflected, by the work environment and people he interacted with daily in the Milwaukee operations facility. He enjoyed working alongside staff in production and the applications labs.
We’ll see Joe again in Winter, when he returns for break to spend more time in the lab. He’s anticipating graduating in June 2018, where he’ll be one of the first classes of graduates in the chemical engineering program at the UW – Stevens Point. We look forward to having Joe back in the Colorants Lab this Winter, and wish him the best in this Fall Semester.